Most rats carry what’s known as mycoplasma inside their lungs, and for some rats this can cause problems down the line. If this infectious bacteria gets out of control for some reason, it usually manifests at first as sneezing and if nothing is done to stop it, it can start to cause damage to the respiratory tract. This makes the rat highly vulnerable to further infection and this is when the wheezing starts. In the progressive stages a rat can eventually develop emphysema, abscesses, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Keep in mind that most rats sneeze from time to time but the problem occurs when they start sneezing more often than this. This is when they need to be checked for other symptoms like labored or noisy breathing. If they have these, then it’s time for a vet’s opinion. If these infections are caught early enough, they can be treated very effectively with antibiotics.
Sneezing can also be caused by keeping a rat living on wood shavings that have oils in them. Breathing problems are usually a sign of something more serious like an upper respiratory tract infection. Rats that get repeated infections like this should not be bred from as the predisposition to them is partly hereditary. This means that it’s offspring will be likely to have the same problems and so will it’s offspring as well. It’s vital to breed only from the healthiest of rats.
Rats can develop skin problems for a variety of reasons ranging from dietary deficiencies or parasites.
Sometimes a rat can be allergic to a specific food like peanuts or processed pet foods. To eliminate these skin issues you need to get to the source as fast as possible. In the allergy scenario, all you need to do is remove the offending food from their diet and the problem should subside on it’s own.
However, if it’s a deficiency, try and determine what it needs and give it to them. This could be a lack of vegetables, meat or grains. If there are scabs already on their skin, then make sure you treat them with some antiseptic ointment and clip their nails to prevent further damage. If mites are determined to be the culprit, then get hold of some Ivermectin. This is a liquid formula that can be absorbed into the skin. There is also an inject-able version but many rats have adverse reactions to this. This needs to be given to them every two weeks until the problem disappears.